No Longer Hidden Figures
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” says Donna Brazile, quoting Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman elected to the US congress in 1968), while addressing a spirited room filled with inspired women of color gathering during an event on the current book tour for new release, “For Colored Girls Who Considered Politics”. Speaking to overcoming the challenges that woman of color endure in US politics, the book’s authors (Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore) do not spare the audience of the harsh realities in the US political landscape, but share many words of encouragement to propel forward movement.
The reality is that women face great challenges in US politics. According to data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 2017, the US ranked 104 for the presence of women in the government out of 190 countries. Unfortunately, this continues to illustrate concerns of women being underrepresented, a reality that women of color are far too familiar with. In fact, Shirley Chisholm spoke to this years ago, as she shared the following, “America is composed of all kinds of people - part of the difficulty in our nation today is due to the fact that we are not utilizing the abilities and the talents of other brown and black peoples and females that have something to bring to the creativity and the rejuvenation and the revitalization of this country.” What was present tense during a time when Shirley Chisholm was advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment (1970) is present tense today.
Far from jaded and full of strength, Brazile, Caraway, Daughtry, and Moore, give birth to “For Colored Girls Who Considered Politics” to ensure that every American can have a seat at the table (regardless of race, gender or religious background). Recently, just one day following book tour events in Washington DC, prolific author, Ntozake Shange, whose brilliance is not only highlighted but is also the opener of “For Colored Girls Who Considered Politics", passed away at 70 years of age. It is notable that the mourning of Ntozake Shange's death reminds many of us to share our gifts and empower each other.
Shortly, the American electoral process will be exercised through the mid-term elections; two years following the last US presidential election, two years closer to the next. This is possibly a moment where we can see a tide rising, and “For Colored Girls Who Considered Politics” seeks to diminish the use of the phrase out of sight, out of mind when it comes to politics and women of color. Echoing the voices of powerful souls like Ntozake Shange and Shirley Chisholm, the recently released text has the potential to inspire women worldwide to know their voice, use their voice and demand that they will be heard. Ultimately, we are reminded that, “you don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas" (Shirley Chisholm). For this, we are grateful.